Backing local pubs

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Pubs are vital hubs for communities in Corby & East Northamptonshire and are valued strongly by local people, giving people a place to meet and to relax over a drink or a meal. They are often the venues for celebrations that mark important milestones in our lives.

Pubs are very important to our economy too, both locally and nationally. In 2012, the pub and beer sector in the UK contributed £19 billion Read the rest of this entry »

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Let’s tackle low pay and deal with the cost of living crisis

IMG_9236Hard-working families across Corby and East Northamptonshire are struggling as they face the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation.

Wages have gone up slower than prices for 39 out of 40 of the months David Cameron has been Prime Minister and many hard-working families struggle to make ends meet. Average wages are over £1,500 lower than they were when the Tories came into power in 2010 and year after year people are working harder, for longer, for less.

Thousands of hard-working people in Corby and East Northamptonshire get up early to go to work, do the right thing and yet struggle to pay their bills. It can’t be right that we’ve now reached the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work. Read the rest of this entry »


Launching the Corby Employment Agency Code of Practice

Corby probably has the highest concentration of employment agencies in the country. Some act properly and treat people fairly and the work they do helps supports local businesses by providing them with a flexible workforce that enables them to respond to changes in demand and conditions in their markets.

However, there are employment agencies operating in Corby who are exploiting workers and adding significantly to a climate of job insecurity and a ‘race to the bottom’ with regard to pay and conditions. In May of this year, I convinced HMRC and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to carry out a three-day operation, visiting 34 local employment agencies. They uncovered £100,000 owed to 3,000 employees in the area.

In response to this I have two tabled two Private Members Bills in Parliament.  One that seeks to end the exploitation of zero hours contracts, the other that seeks to extend the powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to enable it to regulate employment agencies in all sectors of the economy.

As well as this action in Parliament, I have been working hard locally in partnership with the Labour Leader of Corby Borough Council, Tom Beattie, to set up the Corby Employment Agencies Forum. The aim has been to establish common, high standards of practice within the employment businesses’ sector in the town.

Today we are launching our Code of Practice (which can be downloaded here) with pledges from a number of agencies and employers to sign-up and abide by its terms. We have developed this through engaging employment agencies, trade associations, client companies, temporary workers themselves and trades unions in the work of the Forum.

We intend the Code to be a kind of ‘kitemark’ for those companies engaged in the employment of temporary workers within the town – a guarantee that they will operate in a legal, fair and socially responsible manner in these transactions. Borrowing from some of the content of the Gangmaster Licensing Authority Standards, it sets out three sets of responsibilities for those involved in temporary working:

  • Employment Agencies/Businesses
  • Their Client Companies
  • Temporary Workers

Gaining the buy-in of employers is crucial, given their power to influence the behaviour of the agencies with which they contract. The Code offers them the demonstration of a commitment on the part of these labour suppliers to operate in a lawful and ethical manner, providing a component for a company’s quality strategy and its corporate responsibility charter. In return, employers commit to:

  • Avoiding the replacement of permanent jobs with temporary employment through effective workforce planning
  • Carry out regular reviews with their agencies to establish that the management of temporary workers on site is carried out effectively and professionally
  • Contract only with agencies that sign-up to the Code

The Forum and the Code do not replace the need for a proper regulatory framework for employment businesses. However, the current government have weakened this – through the recently-announced winding up of the Employment Agency Standards Agency – rather than taking action to tackle abuses in the sector. In these circumstances, I am determined to do what I can to make Corby and East Northamptonshire a great place to work where laws designed to protect working people are upheld, everyone is treated fairly and with respect when they are at work and there are routes from temporary to permanent employment.

With the Forum promoting and up-holding this Code, I believe that we will make a real difference in creating an ethos of fairness and establishing an appropriate balance of power in the local job market.


The future of our local high streets

On Thursday 16th October I made a speech in Parliament arguing for the government to do more to encourage new businesses to open up on our high streets, bringing with them new jobs and potential growth for the local economy. There are 5 town centres in Corby and East Northamptonshire, as well as many village high streets. Corby high street welcomed over 8 million shoppers last year and is continuing to grow, with strong support from the council.

Times are really tough though for our High Streets. We all know that shopping habits are changing due to the internet, but there are other critical factors affecting our town centres. Living standards have been falling in 39 out of the 40 months that David Cameron has been in office, and that is having a huge effect on high-street spend. Currently, one in seven shops are empty and many others are being turned into yet more payday lenders, betting shops and takeaways

As high streets struggle, many small businesses are struggling to pay business rates that sometimes are higher than their rents. I do not think makes sense and this is why I am pleased that Labour have pledged to cut business rates to 1.5 million small businesses if we win the general election in 2015. This will give our local high streets and town centres a much needed boost.

You can read my speech here.


Experience Corby

Corby Telegraoh front page - 4 Sept 2013

One of my 6 pledges is to help young people find good jobs and support local business. This is why I am delighted to have set an exciting new project with Tresham College called Experience Corby.

Experience Corby is a scheme aimed at young people who have struggled to get a foothold in the jobs market. It seeks to provide young people with a first step on the road to a fulfilling career through gaining work experience with a valued employer in the town.

Would your company consider giving a local young a work experience placement? Read the rest of this entry »


Visit to TATA Steel

One of my 6 pledges is to support local business and work hard to support new jobs across Corby and East Northamptonshire.

On Monday 9th July I was pleased to welcome the Energy and Climate Change Minister to Corby to show him around the TATA Steel site in Corby. We were also joined by Community union general secretary Michael Leahy and TATA’s European operation director Remco Blaauw.

I invited the Minister during a recent debate in Parliament. I wanted him to visit the Corby site to see for himself how important energy intensive industries like steel manufacturing are to both our local and national economy.

TATA Steel employ 650 people in Corby and East Northamptonshire and in total hundreds of thousands of people in the UK work in energy intensive industries. Read the rest of this entry »


Corby charity helps turn round volunteers’ lives

Furniture Turnaround

I recently visited a great local charity which restores and recycles unwanted furniture and offers valuable training to help people find employment.

As the Corby Telegraph report, Furniture Turnaround, on the Oakley Hay Industrial Estate, is providing help thanks to a £4,000 boost from Orbit Housing Association’s community investment fund.

Furniture Turnaround is helping its volunteers develop a range of skills, from restoring furniture, to IT, customer service, marketing and logistics. The partnership with Orbit is really making a difference.

A total of 18 volunteers will receive employment and education advice.

Furniture Turnaround, which has been going in Corby for 17 years, restores and passes on household items to families and individuals, many of whom are referred to the charity by social services.

In the last 12 months it has delivered more than 100 tonnes of essential items to people’s homes, which equates to 30 households benefiting each week.

Andy Spalding, project manager, said: “We were very pleased Andy had the time to come and visit us. It was the third time he has called in and we appreciate his support and interest in the work we are doing, thanks to the support of Orbit.

“Demand for our help continues to grow but fortunately, donations keep coming in.”

For more information on Furniture Turnaround call 01536 402181.